Cinematographers

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“There Is No Video Village”: DP Robert Richardson on Shooting Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood in 35mm

During lunch break on a Western TV series, fading star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) settles into a director’s chair next to his nine-year-old co-star. The young actress is armed with a Walt Disney biography, Dalton a pulpy Western novel. The girl asks Dalton about the story in his book and he recounts the tale of an over-the-hill bronco buster that eerily mirrors his own circumstances. Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood is a loving valentine to an era of studio filmmaking that was coming to an end in 1969, but it’s also a rumination on the inevitability of aging and mortality […]

“If I’m Not Nervous About Getting Fired Between Wrap and Dailies…I Probably Didn’t Push Myself Hard Enough”: Cinematographer David Klein Discusses his Emmy-Nominated Work on Deadwood: The Movie

When HBO pulled the plug on Deadwood a dozen years ago, it left the denizens of the lawless South Dakota boomtown dangling at the end of a Season 3 cliffhanger. The show’s ostensible hero (marshal Seth Bullock, played by Timothy Olyphant) and villain (saloon owner Al Swearengen, played by Ian McShane) were left equally battered and bruised by a common enemy in ruthless mining magnate George Hearst. Imagine if the original Star Wars trilogy ended after The Empire Strikes Back and you’ll get a sense of the incompleteness that has haunted Deadwood fans over the years – myself included. HBO […]

The Unsettling Glow of Daylight: DP Pawel Pogorzelski on Shooting the Folk Horror of Midsommar

In the span of just two features, writer/director Ari Aster and cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski have forged a signature style that cloaks the heightened emotions of melodrama behind the veil of the horrific. In last year’s Hereditary, the Ordinary People-esque family tragedy unfolded in a haunted house, where a matriarch’s sense of being cursed manifested itself literally. In the new film Midsommar, the crumbling relationship between two American grad students plays out against the backdrop of an isolated Swedish community whose harvest festival isn’t quite as benign as it first appears. With Midsommar out now in wide release, Pogorzelski talked to […]

“There’s Something to Be Said for Eliminating Variables and Keeping Things Simplistic”: DP Mike Gioulakis on the Doppelgängers of Us

In Jordan Peele’s Us, a middle class family returns home from a day at the beach to find themselves under siege by murderous doppelgängers clad in red jumpsuits and wielding scissors. Instead of leaning primarily on face replacements, compositing and other post production tricks, cinematographer Mike Gioulakis emphasized clever camera placement and the use of doubles to create the illusion of Lupita Nyong’o and her clan battling their alter egos. With Us hitting Blu-ray and other home entertainment platforms last week, Gioulakis walked Filmmaker through some of the film’s most memorable shots. Filmmaker: Since we spoke for It Follows, you’ve shot two M. Night […]

Day For Night on The Dead Don’t Die: Director Of Photography Frederick Elmes Shoots Jarmusch’s Zombies

Fred Elmes invited me to a DI Theater at Harbor Picture Company, a post-house bustling around the corner from Film Forum, to talk about his work on Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die. There was just an hour left of the allotted time to finish the HDR version of the film when I arrived at the DI suite, but Fred retained his cool as he lulled us to the finish line. In my time there, he liked to vignette the edges more or less, and bring faces up or down a level or two. Usually down.  Our meeting there was […]

“Filmmaking is Like Combat — 90% Boredom, 5% Panic and 5% Terror”: Ken Kelsch on Four Decades as a Cinematographer

Born in Brooklyn, Ken Kelsch enlisted to fight in Vietnam when he was still a teenager. He became a decorated officer in the Army Special Forces, and with over four decades as a cinematographer, has amassed more than 50 credits in film and television. His work alongside Abel Ferrara, with whom he has collaborated over 15 times, includes Bad Lieutenant, Dangerous Game, The Addiction, The Funeral, and recent Tribeca Film Festival entry, The Projectionist. From his home in New Jersey, Ken spoke to Filmmaker about his background, combat experiences, sobriety and framing methodologies. Our conversation has been edited for clarity. […]